I was born in São Paulo within a family of Italian immigrants. In this noisy family, Sunday lunches were filled with lively political discussions. Thus it was natural to choose a career as a nutritionist. I decided that I wanted to end world hunger!
My college years coincided with the democratisation process in Brazil. Technical training was accompanied by many activities related to the women’s movement, popular culture, popular movements to guarantee our public and universal national health system, and also the foundation of the Workers’ Party, the political party that now leads the government of Brazil.
Once I graduated I enrolled in a master’s degree course in a multidisciplinary research group involved in the study of the health determinants of workers. Before the end of the master’s programme I spent one year travelling, and after my return to Brazil I moved to Brasília to work in a research group called the Hunger Studies Group at the University of Brasília. As Brasília is the administrative capital of Brazil, since that moment I’ve had many different opportunities to integrate in my career academic activities and public management.
After a few years I joined the faculty in the department of nutrition of the University of Brasília. In 2000 I obtained a PhD in public health and for three years I worked in the National Coordination of Food and Nutrition at the federal Ministry of Health, responsible for implementing Brazil’s food and nutrition policy. During this period I was involved with different national nutrition programmes and negotiations of health and nutrition issues like the nutrition labeling in Mercosul, and I participated of the first implementation steps of the Zero Hunger strategy.
For family reasons I lived in Uruguay from the year of 2003 to 2008. As well as an unforgettable personal experience, this period was valuable to understand and experience the great differences between different Latin American countries.
Back in Brazil I resumed my activities at the University of Brasilia and I joined the team of ABRANDH – the leading national non-government organisation concerned with nutrition and human rights. Since then I’ve been actively involved in the agenda of the realisation of the right to food and the promotion of food and nutritional security. As a counsellor of CONSEA, the Brazilian National Council of Food and Nutritional Security, I had the opportunity to participate in the process of the formulation of the Brazilian national policy and plan of food and nutrition security, and numerous intersectoral initiatives that integrate civil society and government in the implementation of public policies.
At the university I coordinate the Observatory of Food security and Nutrition policies. Our research lines include food and nutrition in primary health care, capacity building in public health nutrition, and monitoring of food marketing. The observatory integrates various partnerships and is supported by several institutions. Partnerships and support have enabled the establishment of the nutrition network in health systems. This is a social network that involves about 5,000 professionals and those interested in nutrition agenda in health. Its work includes building a consensus on competencies of nutritionists in public health, and also the development of a reference framework for food and nutrition education for public policies.
While working for the Brazilian government, I participated in the drafting of the first official Brazilian dietary guidelines, the matrix of activities in food and nutrition in primary care, and other initiatives.
I’m a member of the task force on food and nutrition of Abrasco, the Brazilian Association of Collective Health. I had the wonderful opportunity to join the executive committee to organize World Nutrition – Rio 2012 conference.